The United States District Court for the Central District of California has said that alleged international fraudster, Ramon Abbas aka Hushpuppi, paid a Deputy Commissioner of Police in Nigeria, Abba Kyari, to arrest and jail an estranged co-conspirator, Chibuzo Vincent.
This was contained in a statement released on Wednesday by the court titled, ‘Six Indicted in International Scheme to Defraud Qatari School Founder and then Launder over $1 Million in Illicit Proceeds’.
Kyari has yet to respond to our correspondent’s enquiry, seeking his response on the American court’s allegation.
The court said Hushpuppi, who pleaded guilty to charges including money laundering, wire fraud, felony amongst others, used Kyari, a leader of the Inspector-General of Police’ Intelligence Response Team, to jail Vincent.
According to the indictment, Hushpuppi allegedly conspired with five others – including Vincent – to defraud a businessperson in Qatar by claiming to be consultants and bankers who could facilitate a loan to finance the construction of a school.
Hushpuppi’s associates include 40-year-old Vincent from Nigeria; and 28-year-old Abdulrahman Juma from Kenya. Other are Yusuf Anifowoshe, 26; Rukayat Fashola, 28; and Bolatito Agbabiaka, 34.
However, Hushpuppi allegedly hunted Vincent after a dispute broke out among the team.
The indictment stated that Juma allegedly posed as a facilitator and consultant for the illusory bank loans, while Hushpuppi played the role of ‘Malik’, a Wells Fargo banker in New York, according to court documents.
“Vincent, in turn, allegedly provided support for the false narratives fed to the victim by, among other things, creating bogus documents and arranging for the creation of a fake bank website and phone banking line,” it read.
Hushpuppi and the five others allegedly defrauded the victim of more than $1.1 million and laundered the proceeds of the fraud in several ways, the document noted.
“Approximately $230,000 of the stolen funds allegedly were used to purchase a Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which was hand-delivered to Abbas in Dubai and subsequently appeared in Hushpuppi’s social media posts.”
“Court documents outline a dispute among members of the conspiracy, which allegedly prompted Vincent to contact the victim and claim that Abbas and Juma were engaged in fraud. After this contact, Abbas allegedly arranged to have Vincent jailed in Nigeria by Abba Alhaji Kyari, 46, of Nigeria.
“According to the affidavit, Kyari is a highly decorated deputy commissioner of the Nigeria Police Force who is alleged to have arranged for Vincent to be arrested and jailed at Abbas’ behest, and then sent Abbas photographs of Vincent after his arrest. Kyari also allegedly sent Abbas bank account details for an account into which Abbas could deposit payment for Vincent’s arrest and imprisonment.”
Efforts to reach Kyari for comments proved abortive as his line was switched off. He had not also responded to a text message sent to his line as of the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, Anifowoshe, Fashola and Agbabiaka were arrested in New York and New Jersey on July 22, 2021, and they are expected to be arraigned in Los Angeles in August 2021.
In a plea agreement document sighted by The PUNCH on Wednesday, Hushpuppi pleaded guilty as charged.
The document was signed by Hushpuppi; his lawyer, Loius Shapiro; Acting United States Attorney, Tracy Wilkison, amongst others.
It stated that Hushpuppi risks “20 years’ imprisonment; a 3-year period of supervised release; a fine of $500,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offence”.
The document, however, did not mention the date of the plea hearing.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the 37-year-old was arrested in Dubai in June 2020 alongside 12 other members of his crew.
The Dubai Police said it discovered that fraud amounting to 1.6 billion Dirham (N168 billion) had been committed by the gang.
No fewer than 1,926,400 people from different parts of the world were also said to have fallen victims to the suspects.
According to the police, 13 luxury cars, estimated at 35 million Dirham (N3.7 billion) were recovered from the house where they were arrested.
The Dubai Police later handed Hushpuppi and his conspirators over to the FBI in the US and they had since been arraigned on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, among others.
Hushpuppi is known to have flaunted his luxury lifestyle appearing in private jets with exotic wines and expensive watches adorning his wrist. His social media handles were replete with photos of his ostentatious lifestyle before his arrest last year June.